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March 9, 1999

Gustavo Kuerten


MIKI SINGH: Gustavo knocked off his second French Open champion in as many days. Next round he'll face Sjeng Schalken. First question.

Q. Nice recovery?


Q. Must feel pretty happy about it.

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Tough first set. But the game is best-of-three, so I knew I still had some chance. I start pretty well the second set, so I really start, you know, to put the match even. Fortunately, I think I had a little bit more luck in the second set. I had the chance to win, so was a very close match. He's one of the -- of the guys, I think he's playing better tennis this year. So for me it was a great win and for sure it's going to grow very much my confidence from this match.

Q. When you're playing him, do you get the feeling that if you could keep the match competitive, you've got a great shot?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Well, I think if you play him and you get competitive, you have a chance to win, so that's good. Sometimes goes the other way, too. It's not that you just have to battle and then you going to win. He is a great player, too. He has a lot of skills when the match is close. So you have to -- I think to beat him, you have to really fight hard and don't miss too much opportunity. I did this today when I had my chance. I was there and that's why I won.

Q. He made the point that during the match there was an interval where he said, "I just wasn't focused for a little while." Did you sense that?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Well, I think he lost concentration in the middle of the second set, but I didn't took too much advantage of that. I had the chance to make 4-1 and double break, but I just lost, I don't know, a few little mistake. Then he got right away back, so I didn't see him when like he lost concentration for a while, just for a little bit, and I was just try to focus myself and don't think too much about him. Maybe I saw him a little bit tired at the end, but I was just trying to pay attention on my side.

Q. How worried were you in the third set when you were down a break at 3-1?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: For me, the worst problem was when he got up, he start to play really well. Like the first set, he was leading 3-Love, he started playing boom, boom, all the shots. I was just worry about that. But I really played great that game in 3-1. I had the breakpoint down, serve an ace, got back 3-2. So I think I have still my mind on the match. I knew I had a chance to break him in the second, like in the second set a couple times. That's what start to happen, I start to play more solidly and with a lot of stronger back court shots. So I think I keep myself in the game like I do always, try to win till the end of the match.

Q. Do you like playing in the desert, on the hard courts here?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Well, I came here now is my fourth year. I had played well all the time. At least last year only that I had a little back problem, and I lost in my first round, a tough match too. But before I played a Challenger here always well. Once I play my first Super 9 here, too. I beat my first Top 10 Player here in the desert. I think I feel good. I always remember that I really can play well here.

Q. For some time now, many players have had a shot at Pete to become No. 1, Korda, Rafter, Rusedski.

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: I didn't (laughter).

Q. My question is, why do you think, time and again, except for Rios briefly, so many have fallen short?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Well, I think it's because it's one thing that everybody wants. It's too much. When you got close, you really wants to get there. Sometimes you put yourself a little more pressure. Maybe you just think, "Well, I'm sure I'm going to get it." You relax too much. It can happen many things. Like Rios who just keep playing, you get it. It depends of the player. Depends of the others, too. Today it's so hard to beat everybody here in the field. You have to play your best tennis. It's not easy to say, "Kafelnikov is going to be No. 1 because he's going to play here and get to the quarterfinal, semifinal." Each tournament he has to play very well to go farther. That's why I think it's really a very -- when it gets very close, you can put a little bit of pressure, then you can play your best tennis and it's tough to get there.

Q. Do you think that might have helped you today?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: I hope so. I hope everything helps me, it's good. Maybe it can be this, too. Also if he wasn't with this chance, he could have like play and it doesn't matter. Today I'm sure that he wants to win, like he will give everything to win this match. So I think it's also good for him because he tries to do everything right, and he didn't give me one ball or one point for free. I had to fight for everything.

Q. Do you think at the end he was trying too hard? He was hitting a lot of balls long. Do you think that he was just trying for too good a shot?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: No. I think at the beginning of the third set, I was playing a little bit short, then I got a very good rhythm. My balls start to go very close from the line. So was tough to him. He likes to control the points. He tried, but was tough my balls, very long, so maybe he overhit sometime and he miss a couple of shots.

End of FastScripts....

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